Vegan staples

You may remember from my earlier post, I am not a cook of any kind.  So I had to figure out a few staples to have around to make sure I did not cave and eat the box of vanilla wafers or half of a $5 pizza my kids left behind (no, my kids are not vegans, I have enough food battles to fight with them…)

I discovered a wide variety of staples and easy to make meals or snacks as well as things to pick up on the go…

1.  Kashi oatmeal dark chocolate chip cookies.  These are great for snacks, breakfast, meal additions.  I am obsessed and have to limit myself to 2 a day, although sometimes that becomes 4.

2.  Smoothies.  I got myself a decent blender (well my mom got me one for christmas, thanks mom!) and I blend.  My current favorite mix is frozen strawberries, frozen blueberries, 1 banana, 1/2 cup fresh o.j., grapefruit juice ( I just cut one in half and squeeze right in) 1 Tablespoon of flaxseed and 1 handful of spinach.  You can not taste the spinach (or sometimes I use Kale) in the smoothie, but it is a great way to get tons of nutrients.  I also make a strawberry, avocado, grapefruit, almond milk smoothie that is yummy.  I am so bad in the kitchen that I still look for smoothie recipes, I do not dare come up with my own.  Just google Green smoothies and you will be set.

3.  Multigrain Cheerios.  This is my breakfast, I use almond milk which I much prefer to plain soy or coconut milk (which my hubby likes).  Again, this can be a meal or snack later in the day as well.

4.  Plain old spaghetti.  I can boil water, therefore I can make spaghetti noodles.  I prefer Meijer brand Organic Capellini.  This is the best of all the whole wheat pasta I have found.  (again, thanks mom) Then just find a jar of red sauce (withOUT sugar) and dinner is served!    If you have a little extra money that week you can treat yourself to pesto…Some people swear by nutritional yeast as a cheese substitute.  I do not need it on pasta, in fact I have rarely used it for anything, but it is a common ingredient in vegan dishes…

5.  Apples with peanut butter.  I have become and apple snob.  In fact a few weeks ago I bought 5 honeycrisp apples (it is March and they are not in season) for $7.00.  I suppose buying fruit not in season is not the best choice, but concessions must be made for the busy, non chef.  There are a few varieties of peanut butter that do not have sugar and taste  great.  Plus, to eat this takes a while and since I can not cram it down my throat, I notice I am full

6.  Almonds.  THere are many varieties.  I like the sea salt, but have some cocoa dusted almonds in my office just in case I need a chocolate fix.  I am not a big walnut fan, but those are good as well.

7.  Quinoa.  This is the magic grain.  I swear, there must be a million quinoa recipes, hot, cold, with fruit, with veggies… It is an amazing source of protein, fairly easy to make and very easy to find recipes for.  I will admit, I only tried making it once (my husband has made it lots) and I burned some to the pan, but there was a lot that was still edible.

8.  Odwalla.  (incidentally this sounds like an Amharic word for the guy that sticks his head out of a mini bus taxi yelling where the taxi is going) This is a great juice smoothie I have found at Meijer and Walgreens.  I am sure it is other places as well.  In a grocery store it is in the produce area.  There are lots of flavors, my favorite is called Original Superfood and the juice looks green.  I often grab one of these when I am in the car for a meal to avoid fast food.  I have tried other juice smoothies, (like Naked which is very chalky) and have not been impressed.

9.  Starbucks.  This is a great place to stop when you need something on the go and are temped by Wendy’s double cheeseburger and frosty…There are a few great staples there.   they have 2 smoothies (orange mango and strawberry) that, if you order with soy milk are vegan and filling.  I also enjoy just a plain old soy latte.  It is made with vanilla soy milk and is so creamy and yummy it makes my day.  There are two other “non” Starbucks things I get at Starbucks.  They have these AMAZING granola bars KIND bars.  They have a few varieties and the are all great.  I have found these a few other places (like Meijer by the protein bars) but then you can’t get a latte to go with it.  Finally they have a great bottled juice smoothie there.  (I think the brand is Evolution).  Well I guess that was not finally because they have vegan chocolate.  Dark chocolate, organic, no butter, cane sugar… yes, it is amazing to have around.  I have not done any research on their oatmeal or other baked goods.  But every Starbucks I go to, and I go to a lot of them, always has a few packaged options with nutrition info on it that is usually vegan.

10.  Zoup.  This is a great, great place.  They have about a dozen soups to choose from and always have at least one dairy free, vegetarian option.  Each soup they serve notes if it is dairy free, vegetarian, spicy and/or low fat.  I think they have about 5 different vegan options that rotate through.  I usually skip the bread, but often will get the sweet potato chips or veggie chips instead.  Super tasty.

My day always involves a bowl of Cheerios with almond milk and a smoothie.  I crave smoothies like I used to crave cheeseburgers.  Plus that way I know I am getting fruit, spinach and fiber and all the nutrients and vitamins involved.

So now you have a few basics.  I suspect I will have to have another post on restaurant, airplane and invited to a friends for dinner issues, but like I said, we are starting small.

***I realized I forgot a few things!  Hummus is a must, I prefer homemade, but it involves a food processor so store bought is a good second.  I like veggies with it, cucumber, celery and carrots (and not those nasty baby carrots, real carrots that need to be peeled and cut).  Also crackers are a great dipper:  Nut thins (in gluten free area of grocery store) I like the pecan and almond flavors.  Also Kashi/TLC has great pita chips.  I also like to have fresh salsa around and there are a few chips that are vegan, I like the blue corn variety.  Not all are vegan so read the label!  If you have an avocado, mash that up, mix with salsa and you have an amazing snack!

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